Online tool helps ease burden of dementia caregivers

Holding hands with an elderly adult

(Michigan Health Lab)

Helen C. Kales, a U-M professor of psychiatry, leads the Program for Positive Aging (PPA) that is working to create innovative options for dementia caregivers, providing reliable information and training, developing support and online tools, and studying to improve self-care. Kales, with the PPA and Johns Hopkins University collaborators developed a web-based support tool called the WeCareAdvisor. The tool eases the burden those who care for people with dementia by helping them anticipate and respond to the behavioral and psychological symptoms of the illness.

A short, one month pilot study was performed on this support tool. According to an evaluation published in BMC Geriatrics, it was shown to measurably reduce caregiver distress. In addition, the dementia patients showed less frequency and severity in their behavioral and psychological symptoms. A three-month trial of the WeCareAdvisor is currently being planned which will determine whether it is able to impact other caregiver and patient behavioral outcomes. The hope is that after additional testing, the tool will prove to be effective and valuable, leading to widespread availability and use.

Author: Samantha DeRosia, ITS Communications

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